I was a nervous wreck the first time I decided to bring my camera with me on a kayaking trip. I was worried about getting it wet or even worse, dropping it in the water.
Yes, taking pictures from a kayak can be a worrisome task but there are a few steps a person can take to relieve some of that tension for an enjoyable trip with lasting memories.
There are a few things you can take care of before you even set foot in your kayak. First decide how you want to keep your camera safe when it’s not in use. A good dry bag, hard waterproof cases with built in o-rings (like Pelican or S3 cases) or a simple zippered plastic bag (like a Ziploc) will do the trick. They all have their pros and cons, which I will be addressing in an upcoming blog, but I myself generally use a dry bag, because it fits my needs.
Next, be sure to know your camera and equipment before you head out. It can be tricky enough figuring out all the settings while hanging out on dry land, it’s more difficult when you are bobbing around or having to watch where you are heading.
Once you are ready to head out, give yourself plenty of extra time by starting early in the morning. Keep things simple by utilizing automatic modes. As you get more familiar with kayaking with your camera, you can get a little more creative with your settings.
Once you are underway and find that perfect moment for a photograph, be aware of fogging or water droplets on the lens of the camera or the front glass or plastic of your underwater housing. Droplets and fogging lenses can confuse a camera’s autofocus functionality and there’s a pretty good chance you’ll go home with blurred and distorted pictures. It’s always a good idea to keep a lens wipe handy.
Go for a slightly larger memory card than you normally would. While paddling in a kayak you may find it is a slightly trickier place to switch from a full memory card to your spare. Last thing you want to do is drop your full memory card into the decking of your kayak only to see it slip through a scupper hole and into the water.
When setting your equipment down, if even for a moment, take great care in where and how you do so. Avoid the areas where water will collect (around scuppers, cup holders, etc.). Bring along a resting pad or use a small cooler with the lid turned upside down (so your camera doesn’t slide off the top). If you have a camera strap, use it! The idea is to simply keep the camera off the boat and on top of something that will keep it from getting wet.
If you are still worried about using a camera while paddling, start with a less expensive one instead of that $1,200 SLR with the $1,500 lens. Once you are confident in your abilities and believe you can keep your camera safe, then bring out the big guns.
Taking pictures from a kayak exposes you to different photographic opportunities, some of which you’d never experience from land. I’ve included some images I’ve taken from my own kayak. Stay tuned for more but in the meantime if you have any questions, feel free to ask me by commenting below.
ACK Guest Blogger